The Disintegration Loops
In The Disintegration Loops Stephen Cramer uncovers the music within the world’s dissolution and fragmentation, from Italian masters painting over the work of previous artists, to the innocence of childhood giving way to scars, to the description of badly stored tapes being looped and played over and over again until they begin to flake. In the last of the three, silence eats the music from the inside so that by the final loop, the listener hears not the soaring themes of the beginning, but an homage to loss and stillness. The book insists that music, and maybe even life itself, is made more dazzling and precious because it “falters/ & staggers/ forward. The broken/ melody limps & surges on.”
The Hot Sauce Madness Love Burn Suite
The Hot Sauce Madness Love Burn Suite is a book of poems that revolves around the beloved and sometimes notorious culture of hot sauce and hot peppers. Its 814 rhyming couplets delve deeply into that rich and addicting world, whether they focus on peppers’ flavor, pain, linguistics, or history. Come take a bite out of these verses, and see if you can handle the heat.
Turn It Up!
Turn It Up! Music in Poetry from Jazz to Hip-Hop is a vibrant and hip anthology of 400 pages, including poems by everyone from Langston Hughes, Allen Ginsberg, and Rita Dove to Yusef Komunyakaa, Kim Addonizio, Kevin Young, and Danez Smith. The book contains 88 poets in all (the number of keys on a piano), and is split up into three sections: poems about jazz, poems about blues and rock, and poems about hip-hop.
A Jar of Moon Air
“Sabines’ poetry is personal, intense and, in my opinion, one of the most important in Latin America and in the Spanish language,” says Nobel Prize winner Octavio Paz. This translation, the most extensive collection of Sabines yet to be published in English, brings one of the greatest Latin American voices to a wider public. It contains poems from each of the poet’s collections and is split up into four sections based on theme.
“Stephen Cramer’s Bone Music opens with a stunning meditation on “Dark Was the Night,” the Blind Willie Johnson song that is “touring the cosmos” as part of the spacecraft Voyager’s “aural primer to planet Earth.” Bone Music is itself just such a primer, and like Voyager, its cargo is music, not only the music of the blues and jazz musicians Cramer writes about but the music of his own elegant and gut-wrenching lines. In poem after poem, he transmutes “the absurdity of our glory & our pain” into the kind of harrowing beauty that, like Blind Willie’s voice singing into space, defies the vast silence that surrounds and awaits us all. This is an essential book of poems. You should, you must, read it.” — David Jauss
A Little Thyme & a Pinch of Rhyme: A Cookbook in Haiku & Sonnets
“If you’re looking for a lyrical cookbook, Stephen Cramer’s A Little Thyme & a Pinch of Rhyme is it! Not only is the book packed with healthy recipes (even the snacks, desserts, and drinks!) but the recipes will have you reciting, delightedly, out loud: lists of ingredients presented in haiku form; cooking directions delivered in sonnets; recipes spiced with humorous asides and peppered with insider culinary wisdoms (from word-histories of ingredients – ‘chutney’ comes from the Sanskrit verb ‘to lick’ – to debates about semantics – do you bring the pot, or the water, to a boil?). Stephen Cramer’s book will make you a more lyrical as well as a more skillful chef, and a more delighted and appreciative eater.” – Neil Shepard
From the Hip
“Stephen Cramer’s From the Hip reinvigorates the now eight hundred year-old form of the sonnet, remixing it to the rhythms and rhymes of hip hop. These sonnets, companions to songs by everyone from the Beastie Boys to Kanye West, are shot through with both nostalgia and novelty. Together, they comprise a literary testament to a cultural revolution still very much under way. What distinguishes Cramer’s hip hop poetics from that of so many other young poets is the way that he is alive to hip hop beyond the beat—to the image, the style, the gesture. This collection is animated by a voice every bit as playful, spirited, and incendiary as the music itself.” – Adam Bradley, author of Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip Hop
Tongue & Groove
“I can think of almost no other young poet who can claim Stephen Cramer’s lyric authority and self-possession. His odes and elegies capture the grit and delights of New York City in a manner that manages to capture something of Crane’s sense of the marvelous with Oppen’s descriptive acuity. This is to say he follows in the footsteps of the giants—and he shows himself abundantly capable of filling their shoes. TONGUE AND GROOVE is a ravishing book.” –David Wojahn
“The deepest pleasure of Stephen Cramer’s book is that of standing in community: these poems situate us within a field of citizens–neighbors, lovers, friends, the wounded, the Human Form Divine in the city of love and trouble, where ‘if you knelt each time/ a miracle passed your eyes,/ you’d never get off your knees.” –Mark Doty